Would You Get Off the Plane?

There’s an old joke about an instructor who asks, “if you were on a plane, and found out that the inflight systems were controlled by a beta version of software written by your team, would you get off the plane?” Most of the students pale and say yes. One person says, “No. If it were written by my team, it wouldn’t make it to the runway.”

The implication is that most software is far crappier than people realize, and that programmers are keenly aware of this. But I’d like to present another reason for getting off the plane:

Even if my team writes good code, the fact that it’s still in beta means that it hasn’t been fully tested. That means that there must have been some kind of snafu at the airline and/or the software company for untested software to be put in control of a flight with ordinary passengers. And if management permitted this error, what other problems might there be? Maybe the fuel tanks are only half-full. Maybe the landing gear hasn’t been inspected.

4 thoughts on “Would You Get Off the Plane?”

  1. Software labeled “beta” would not be allowed to escape whatever QA process might exist, these days. “Beta” is so 20th century; what used to be the beta is now the “release candidate”. Each of which is a, “truly final product…if you guys don’t find any problems,” and may be succeeded by many many more such release candidates. Because that sounds so much more optimistic and therefore marketable.

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    1. Yes, welcome to the world of Agile Development. If it’s better than what we had last week — ship it!
      (Not my problem any more: I retired two years ago)

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